Gen Y’s Best Sports Writing Of 2013

This is slowly becoming an annual tradition over here.  These were the best pieces I read this year, starting with the honorable mentions and finishing with the top ten. I openly admit a certain bias towards the pieces chosen.  The best pieces of sports writing, to me, involve one of two things.  The first is a personal element between the writer and the content.  The second is that the story involves a single piece of information that is so fascinating, so uniquely brilliant, that it vindicates the countless hours of life devoted to sports, the vast majority of which pay no dividends.  To the list…

Honorable Mentions:

The Trouble With Johnny – Wright Thompson [ESPN the Magazine]

Just a banner year all around for Wright Thompson, who asserted his place as the top longform sports writer on the planet.  You’ll see his name again on this list.  Thompson somehow talked his way into the Manziel family circle at the height of Johnny’s fame, before the disappointing season and close loss to Alabama.  It’s an interesting look at one of the most fascinating college football players of all time at his peak notoriety.  The reader walks away with a great understanding of why he is the way he is (hint: bloodline).

Jason Taylor’s Pain Shows NFL’s World Of Hurt – Dan Le Batard [Miami Herald]

We’ll always remember this point in history for the world finally waking up to the dangers of professional football.  This was the best story I read all year that delved into the topic.  It’s the kind of piece that is born out of years of covering a team and building relationships.  Le Batard has of course gained more fame for his on-air gigs at ESPN, but he reminds us all that he’s one hell of a writer too.

Man Up – Brian Phillips [Grantland]

Phillips’ declaration of war on NFL locker room culture is magnificent.  The diction and tone is likewise perfect.  There were several pieces written on the Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito conflict.  Phillips’ was easily the best.

Auburn Should Be Dead, Because We Watched It Die – Spencer Hall [Every Day Should Be Saturday]

Hall is the best college football writer and best sports blogger in the country.  There was no one better to write about the greatest ending to a college football game ever.  Hall’s wit, humor, and knowledge of the sport make him the perfect person to capture that perfect moment.

The Sports Cable Bubble – Patrick Hruby [Sports On Earth]

Hruby delivers with a superbly-reported piece on the reason this country’s cable bills have spiked so high in the last five years.  Can it last?  Will consumers somehow force the industry to change?  Hruby has all the details.

Qatar Chronicles – David Roth [SB Nation]

A five part series dealing with FIFA’s seemingly bizarre decision to award the World Cup to the wealthy Middle Eastern country.  If you don’t have time for all five parts, be sure to at least catch the first and the last parts which perfectly capture why the country was awarded the prized sporting event and just what it means to be Qatari.  Roth just absolutely crushed this.

Lost Soul – Chris Ballard [Sports Illustrated]

Perennial candidate on my lists.  He delivers with another great piece involving basketball, the sport that he loves.  Bison Dele, formerly Brian Williams, left the game during the prime of his career to explore other interests.  He then died under mysterious circumstances.  Dive into this story and see if you can figure out what happened to him.

Nick Saban: Sympathy For The Devil – Warren St. John [GQ]

Nick Saban just wants to coach football and doesn’t understand why we’re all so obsessed with cracking his code.  The way St. John uses the Rolling Stones to explain the enigma that is Coach Saban is perfect.

The Match Maker – Don Van Natta Jr. [Outside The Lines]

Was one of the most famous matches in tennis history actually fixed?  Yes.  Definitely yes.  Read about how Bobby Riggs put the fix in for The Battle of the Sexes.

Top Ten

(tie) 10. Nightmare In Maryville: Teens’ Sexual Encounter Ignites A Firestorm Against Family – Dugan Arnett [Kansas City Star]

This is a well-reported look into the evil side of sports.  A young girl is raped and abandoned on her own porch to freeze to death.  It seems an open-and-shut case until you learn that the accused is a football star in a football-obsessed town.  He also has political connections.  And somehow a helpless victim is characterized by her community as a dirty slut who had it coming to her.  Her family is driven out of town and her house mysteriously burns to the ground.  Travel to the dark side and feel the rage.  It’s amazing how those that we are supposed to trust can so thoroughly screw up in protecting the innocent.

(tie) 10. A Perfect Marathon Day-Then The Unimaginable – Kevin Cullen [Boston Globe]

Just the absolute perfect column on the tragic events that befell the city of Boston the day of the Boston Marathon bombing.  It captures everything wonderful about that city and its identity along with all the horror and tragedy that took place that day.  Boston Strong.

(tie) 10. Why NBA Center Jason Collins Is Coming Out Now – Jason Collins with Franz Lidz [Sports Illustrated]

One of the best sports stories in years.  This story merits a place solely for its courage and bravery.  Collins took a huge risk with this and he deserves all kinds of praise for being the first active player in one of the four major sports to out himself.  Bravo to him and Sports Illustrated for doing it the right way and completely owning the narrative.

9. When 772 Pitches Isn’t Enough – Chris Jones [ESPN the Magazine]

Jones is one of the top magazine writers in the game and I continue to love that ESPN convinced him to write for their magazine.  This piece on Japanese youth baseball gives a thoughtful look into the demands and pressures of youth sports through a lens we’re not at all familiar with.  If you ever played youth baseball or if you’re a parent who struggles with the demands modern youth sports place on children’s bodies, you cannot miss this one.

8. Peyton Manning On His Neck Surgeries Rehab-And How He Almost Didn’t Make It Back – Sally Jenkins [Washington Post]

I’ve had my issues with Jenkins, most notably her continued defense of Lance Armstrong. There’s no denying the greatness of this piece, though.  How a writer for a newspaper in D.C. finally got the full story on Peyton’s comeback is beyond me, but I tore through every single bit of information.  I think we all had an idea that Peyton’s career was at risk, but reading about him barely being able to throw a football is shocking.  Jenkins takes us all the way through each painstaking step in the recovery.  This story is a must-read, considering the record-breaking season and the beginning of the NFL playoffs.

7. Inside Major League Baseball’s Dominican Sweatshop System – Ian Gordon [Mother Jones]

One of the most important stories of the year.  It’s really kind of pathetic that most baseball writers in this country believe the great tragedy of that sport has to do with performance enhancing drugs.  Take a look inside the darker side of America’s pastime, one in which a team can get away with gross negligence, immoral labor practices, and even death.  Try to imagine everything wrong with the NCAA model and then amplify it times a billion and you’ll have an idea of just how poorly managed MLB’s relationship with the Dominican Republic is.  The muckraking done by Gordon for this story is worthy of all kinds of awards.

6.  Soccer Bleu – John Samuel Harphem [American Circus]

Most will probably skip over this article, given that it involves the sport of soccer and the country of France.  I beg you to read it.  It’s a great look at the danger of mixing sports and identity as told through the French national soccer team since their 1998 World Cup victory.  Harphem constructs a Hemingway-esque setting in which to tell the story of his experience of being an American following soccer in Paris.

5.  Manti Te’o’s Dead Girlfriend, The Most Heartbreaking And Inspirational Story Of The College Football Season, Is A Hoax – Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey [Deadspin]

This was one of the most fascinating sports stories of all time.  It’s kind of been forgotten about, given that the majority of Te’o’s games were played during the 2012 calendar year.  This story did technically break in January of 2013, though, and thus has to be included on the list.  That outlets like ESPN and the New York Times completely bought into the Te’o dead girlfriend story without fact checking is exactly why Deadspin has to exist.  Their ability to complete knock this story out of the park in a limited amount of time was remarkable.  The reporting, the writing–everything is just perfect here.  Standing ovation to Tommy Craggs for building Deadspin into a force.

4. The Pain And Pleasure Of Spring – Pat Jordan [SB Nation]

Remember when I said the best articles involve a personal element or a single piece of information that makes being a sports fan all worth it?  This one has both.  Jordan is a legend in the world of sports writing.  He recounts in detail his story of being a once prized baseball prospect who just didn’t make it.  The story about him making love with an elder woman is beautiful, but stay for the unbelievable description of what made Hank Aaron Hank Aaron.  I’m not qualified enough to critique a writer like Jordan. I do know that this piece about his love for spring training is beautiful.

3. The Book Of Coach – Seth Wickersham [ESPN the Magazine]

The biggest irony in all of sports is that Americans know almost nothing about the X’s and O’s of football.  This is partly intentional as the game of football has gone to great lengths to prevent fans from that sacred knowledge (likely in an attempt to avoid criticism, but I digress…).  So it’s really kind of awesome when we get a writer like Chris Brown over at Grantland or this story from Seth Wickersham which brought to light a book which almost no one outside of football coaches knew existed.  Did you know legendary 49ers coach Bill Walsh attempted to write a complete manual to everything that was necessary to be a great football coach?  Neither did I.  Apparently it is the bible for football coaches, with very limited copies in existence.  Everyone from Bill Belichick to college graduate assistants profess its value.  While Walsh never really felt satisfied, this article gives a great look into the long, difficult road it takes to be a great football coach.  I love finding out about sports secrets like this book.  I’m guessing you will too.

2. Stroke Of Madness – Scott Eden [ESPN the Magazine]

All apologies to Dan Jenkins, but this might be the greatest golf-related article I’ve ever read.  Far too often the conversations in individual sports like golf comes down whether an athlete is “clutch.”  It’s a sad reality that most of us don’t spend any time with golfers beyond the four majors. We know of Tiger’s dominance and competitiveness, but is it possible that the single greatest accomplishment in his career was that he changed his swing THREE times while never really losing his place as the number one-ranked golfer?  It’s a worthy question and Eden does an otherworldly job of explaining just how difficult the process can be and why it’s so rarely attempted.  This story is packed with nuggets on the history of golf and the evolution of Tiger Woods’s swing.  Even if he never surpasses Jack’s major total, this article should do enough to explain why he is the greatest golfer who ever lived.  His obsession with the mechanics of golf and always improving are only surpassed by the subject of the final piece on this list…

1. Michael Jordan Has Not Left The Building – Wright Thompson [Outside The Lines]

Let’s end this list where we started it, with Mr. Wright Thompson and one of the single greatest years by a sports writer ever.  This story on Jordan was all types of fascinating, dealing with his post-retirement life.  It’s amazing how keenly aware Jordan is of himself and his image.  Read his quote about his inability to go back to living a normal life and the expectations he now has because he’s Michael Jordan.  You know the stories about the competitiveness, but I came away far more impressed with his ability to analyze.  The most fascinating aspect of this piece, though, involves LeBron James.  Jordan has a maniacal obssession to break down James and find his weaknesses.  It somehow seems impossible to feel pity for a guy like Michael Jordan, but even he is unable to escape the nasty habit that history has of forgetting its elders.  He’s determined to not let us forget.

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Gen Y’s Best Sports Writing Of 2012

We’re coming out of retirement this week to discuss one of the site’s pastimes: great sports writing. There are obviously several of these lists already out there (check here or here, if interested), but these were Gen Y’s top picks.

Honorable mentions:

Marathon Man – Mark Singer [New Yorker]

Bizarre story of a man caught lying about road race results.

The Beautiful Game – Patrick Symmes [Outside]

The lesson, as always: no one takes their sport more seriously than soccer fans.

The Fun In Funeral: 2011 College Football’s Dark New Orleans Sendoff – Spencer Hall [EDSBS]

Would have made the top ten if not for Hall writing an even better piece this year.

The Death’s-Head Of Wimbledon – Brian Phillips [Grantland]

Just remember being so impressed when I read this.  Read all five parts.

The Unfair Significance Of Jeremy Lin – Jay Kaspian Kang [Grantland]

An Asian-American writer explains why Jeremy Lin matters

Ultimate Glory – Dave Gessner [Bill & Dave’s Cocktail Hour]

The best stories always involve a personal element from the writer.  Gessner spills his guts out on the page here and the result is awesome.

Who Is Sarah Phillips? – John Koblin [Deadspin]

Deadspin at their best part I.

The Making Of Homer At The Bat – Erik Malinowski [Deadspin]

Deadspin  at their best part II.

ESPN Entertainment Writer Has A Bad Wikipedia Problem – Isaac Rauch [Deadpin]

Deadspin at their best part III.

How ESPN Ditched Journalism And Followed Skip Bayless To The Bottom: A Tim Tebow Story – John Koblin [Deadspin]

Deadspin at their best part IV.

Top Ten:

(tie) 10. 120 Reasons Why Football Will Last Forever – J.R. Moehringer [ESPN.com]

This was one of the most unique pieces of writing I read all year.  I can’t quite describe what I like so much about it, but I guarantee that you’ll like it as much as I did.  Given all the research and tragedies that have occurred in the past year in football, I’m almost angry at myself for including this piece in the top ten.  Well worth it though.  A great, great piece of writing.

(tie) 10. On The Trail Of The White Horse – Christopher McDougall [Outside]

It might not surprise you to learn that I spend almost all of my free time reading about sports.  One of the pleasant surprises of plunging down that rabbit hole was my discovery of Outside magazine.  It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like in that they cover stories of those brave souls who challenege the limits of the human body.  Whether it’s running, rock climbing, etc, Outside is the place to go to read about it and has a shockingly good stable of writers to tell their stories.  This was my favorite story from them this year.  It’s well worth the time.

(tie) 10. Man In Full – Chris Ballard [Sports Illustrated]

I still believe that Ballard is the best longform sports reporter in the country, even better than his longform whizkid colleague Thomas Lake.  “Man In Full” was his best piece of the year and tells the story of a high school wrestling coach who battles a rare disease and in the process inspires a generation of young men in his community.  Get the kleenex ready, this one will tug on the heart strings.

9. The Malice At The Palace: An Oral History – Jonathan Abrams [Grantland]

Abrams is doing an extraordinary job with his longform NBA dispatches over at Grantland.  This was his best one yet and easily the best Oral History of any sports subject in the last 12 months.  I think the thing that is most amazing about this story is how happy the participants were to finally discuss and process the events of that night.  They seem to find some kind of release that enabled them to finally move on.  It’s seems impossible, but literally no one has ever approached the athletes who were there that night about discussing what happened.  The Stephen Jackson portions in particular are so, so, so good.  I won’t spoil anything, but you’re probably not shocked to hear that the one person who refused to be interviewed was the man most responsible: Mr. Ron Artest.  Hearing Jackson’s side of things, well, let’s just say the story becomes clear.

8. Will You Still Medal In The Morning? – Sam Alipour [ESPN The Magazine]

You’ve probably heard the rumors about the rampant sex and partying inside the athletes’ village at the Olympics.  Now, for the first time, hear it straight from the mouths of the participants.  Just an all-around fun read on the debauchery that is the Olympics.  It’s also particularly fascinating to hear them explain how natural it all comes as a result of the intense amounts of time and training they put into getting to that point.  Can you really blame them for claiming their reward?

7. The Air Raid Offense: History, Evolution, Weirdness — From Mumme To Leach To Franklin To Holgorsen And Beyond – Chris Brown [Smart Football]

I think my favorite irony about sports in this country is the massive popularity of football and how little fans actually know about the game.  Sure, the casual NFL fan can tell you that Calvin Johnson is a better receiver than Chad Ocho Cinco, but very few could tell you the philosophy behind the Patriots passing attack or what exactly makes Jim Harbaugh’s teams so damn tough.  Enter Chris Brown who does the best job of any writer on the internet of explaining the X’s and O’s of football.  This piece in particular is one of his masterpieces as he draws on his wealth of knowledge and contacts inside the game to write the history of the most entertaining revolution in football of the last two decades.  A must-read if you are a fan of the rise of the spread offenses and passing in general.

6. Breakdown: Death and Disarray At America’s Racetracks – Walt Bogdanich, Joe Drape, Dara L. Miles, and Griffin Palmer [The New York Times]

I’m always a sucker for a good old-fashioned investigative piece, and there was none better this year than the Times’ look into the secret world of horse racing. Delve into this dark world and see the inhumane way in which horses are medicated and abused across this country to support a dying sport. It’s a sad but necessary wakeup call that action must be taken to protect the beautiful animals that make the sport possible.

5. Tom Brady’s Daze Of Disappointment – Dan Wetzel [Yahoo! Sports]

Wetzel is the best columnist in the country in the most traditional sense of the occupation. When you think of a classic sport writer capturing a game for his readers, Wetzel is the guy that should come to mind. In the minutes and hours following the Patriots loss to the Giants in the Super Bowl, watch him find a unique angle for a column and perfectly capture a moment in time, which is exactly what the columnist is supposed to do. So, so good if you’re a fan of old school sports writing.

4. Bury A Man, Keep A Statue – Spencer Hall [EDSBS]

The best sports blogger in the country is also the best college football writer in the country. I’ve said this many times, but it’s worth repeating again, Hall is this generation’s Dan Jenkins. Here is his best effort of the calendar year in which he tackles the delicate issue of Penn State following the Paterno/Sandusky scandal. Watch a master at work.

3. Poisonous Nostalgia – Brian Phillips [Grantland]

For all the writers with talent at Bill Simmons’ website, Brian Phillips is, in my opinion, the best of the bunch. Phillips made a name for himself at Slate and his popular soccer blog Run of Play, but watch him weave a perfect metaphor between Mad Men and Augusta National and what both of those entities teach us about society. When Bill Simmons popularized sports and pop culture writing over a decade ago, he had no idea that it could be done this beautifully.

2. The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever – Michael Mooney [D Magazine]

Just plain fun, and kind of sad in a Kingpin, Big Lebowski sort of way. Follow the story of a Plano, Texas man who nearly completed the holy grail of the sport of bowling (completing three perfect games in a row). I won’t ruin it, but trust me, time well spent sitting down for this one.  Did I mention that Mooney is a master of the craft?

1. The Truth Is Out There – Patrick Hruby [The PostGame]

By far the piece that left the biggest impression on me this year. It starts out as a fan’s look into all of the best conspiracy theories in every major sport until, by the end, you’re questioning the integrity of every single athletic accomplishment of the last 100 years. Did Stern rig the draft lottery? Duh. Did the NFL willingly let its owners fix games for decades? Probably. Did NBC fix the 2008 men’s Olympic swimming results? Yikes (and yes, yes they did). Take a step into the darker side of sports where the only constant is money.

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Thursday Night Lights

I met one of my literary heroes last night.  On a hot Thursday evening in North Texas I made the trek into the heart of everything that’s wrong with the city of Dallas to meet Harry Gerard (H.G.) Bissinger III.  You might know him as Buzz.  You definitely know him as that guy who wrote the Friday Night Lights book that spawned the movie that led to the television series.  He was in town to promote his new book Father’s Day which chronicles a cross country trip he recently took with his disabled son Zach.  Zach suffered brain damage during birth as a result of oxygen deprivation from being the second-born twin.  By all accounts the book is great and I planned on purchasing it when I got there, but I also brought along my trusty first edition copy of Friday Night Lights.

If you’ve spent any time on my site, you know by now that I am perhaps the biggest sports dork in North America.  My love of stats, obscure players, and any and all sports knows no bounds.  I am perhaps the only person highly considering ditching the NBA and the NFL to become a die-hard European club soccer fan.  I can sustain highly informed conversations on any sport not named NASCAR.  More than anything in life, with the exception of my soon-to-be wife and family, I love a great sports story.  This doesn’t just happen overnight though.  It takes years of reading and dreaming and debating.  In no way do I ever claim to be an expert about sports, but a dork?  Absolutely.

In the moments before Bissinger arrived, I started to wonder why exactly I was there in the first place.  Why did Buzz Bissinger matter to me?  Why would I venture from the comforts of my air-conditioned apartment into the snootiest area of the snootiest city in the United States to get the chance to meet a writer face-to-face?  Why was I scared?

I texted my fiancee and some of my fellow sports dorks to ask if they had any advice on how best to approach him.  The reason?  If they say nothing else about Bissinger, let it be known that he is intense.  Incredibly intense.  Overwhelmingly intense.  Intense to the point that it can be scary.  Watch him confront former Deadspin editor Will Leitch (another one of this sports dork’s heroes) about his feelings towards sports blogs [skip ahead to the 3:00 mark]:

He arrived casually enough.  By my clock he was six minutes late to the 7:00 start time.  He rode up the escalator with a woman I assumed was his publishing agent and quickly came over to the designated area.  He successfully pulled off a “look.”  He wore the patented black blazer he dons in almost every single television appearance along with a blue and white striped button down, damn near white denim pants, and pointy black leather boots.  I felt his presence immediately and my internal nervous meter went from about a five to a 100 on a scale of one to ten.  The obnoxious garlic smell of a fellow audience member’s dinner perpetuated my anxiety.  There he was though.  It was now too late to flee to one of the nearby aisles and spy on the event from behind the safety of an oak bookshelf.

Did I mention that only four other people in the entire DFW metroplex bothered to come meet this man and purchase his book?    A setup that originally began with three long rows of chairs looking up to a podium was quickly rearranged to a semi-circle so that Mr. Bissinger could face us and interact with us on a personal level.  Yours truly got stuck in the chair directly across from him, separated by no more than three feet, right in his sight line.

It was right at the moment before he began that it hit me.

A typical person, when asked to explain their emotions to others, often says something to the effect of: “words cannot describe what I’m feeling right now.”  At some point or another in the past three years of writing on this site I picked up one of the best pieces of writerly, and perhaps worldly, advice in my life.  The anecdote basically said that if you ever find our brain starting to say those dangerous words, stop, slap yourself, and then force yourself to explain it in words that do describe it.  It sounds amazingly simple but it’s incredibly difficult.  Try it sometime.

I struggled in the moments leading up to last night’s book signing to grasp why exactly I was nervous, but then I knew.  Friday Night Lights is the single most influential book of my entire life.  I was nervous because I was grateful.  I was scared because I felt I owed a debt.  It started with the movie back in high school, sure, but I eventually got to my senses and read the real thing.  This eventually led to the remarkable television series, only my favorite TV show of all-time.  Those three independently shaped my college choice, largely helped me come out of a state of depression halfway through college, and helped me make a decision in recent years about who I really wanted to be.  I became comfortable with myself for the first time in my entire life.  If these sound like big, important life decisions, it’s because they are.  And the genesis of it all was this man’s book, for my money, the greatest sports book ever written (and easily the best football book).

So there I was five feet away and he got into his pitch about Father’s Day, reading some select passages that further reinforced my impressions that the book will be a success.  The intensity radiated off of him, even as he read one of the more touching passages that described Zach’s birth, so much so that I made a mental note of how far back I leaned in my chair, as if a gale-force wind was blowing directly in my face.  He also has this habit of flicking his tongue like a snake while he speaks.  It adds to the persona as if to let unsuspecting audience members know that he is capable of unleashing venom at any time.  The nervous meter was by then coming in at a 125 reading.  Selfishly, the whole time I couldn’t help but think of what I was eventually going to say to him at the end though.

If you’re expecting some life-altering event or incredible meeting of the minds took place last night at the Northwest Highway Barnes and Noble, it didn’t.  We essentially ended up having a group conversation about sports and I think I even impressed him with how much knowledge I possessed on each topic which varied from LeBron James to Tony La Russa to Boobie Miles, the focal point of Friday Night Lights.  He explained that the director of the movie and the TV show, Peter Berg, is his cousin in real life, a fact that blew my mind because of the frightening amount of knowledge I possess about the franchise.  He also discussed the large amount of alcohol he’d consumed the previous night with the show’s lead actor Kyle Chandler and how much fun it was to do so.  If you’re wondering if I was jealous, I was.  Scratch that, I am.  I will be.

I still couldn’t think of any questions I felt were worthy of him. 

I was second in line to get my book signed behind a man who brought every single one of Buzz’s sports books to the occasion.  When it was finally my turn, I explained that my fiancee is eventually going to work with children like his son Zach after having received a Masters degree this past weekend.  He signed the copy to her and eventually got to signing Friday Night Lights which I had him address to me.  He politely declined my invitation to go out for a drink afterwards, citing an early flight the next day but most especially the previous night’s toll on his body, courtesy one Kyle Chandler.  And just like that it was time to go.  I found myself having an internal panic attack.  Think the famous scene in Christmas Story when Ralphie can’t remember what he wants from Santa Clause and freezes when he gets on the big guy’s lap.

I found my legs carrying my body to a place my head didn’t want to be.  And so I paused.  I turned around.  I interrupted the next person in line and simply thanked Harry Gerard Bissinger III.  I thanked him for that book.  I explained that it meant so much to me.  I told him that it influenced me.  It lasted all of five seconds but I felt the relief rush from my body like a recently unplugged bath drain.

Most people’s heroes are athletes, politicians, actors, or even fictional characters.  My heroes are writers.  I got the pleasure of meeting and thanking one of them last night which was about the coolest thing I did all week. 

It might be the single most revealing thing a human being can do to bare his thoughts, emotions, and feelings in print for all the world to see.  The majority of the human race can hide their insecurities in the deepest, darkest corners of their brain and, if they so choose, never share them with anyone.  The writer does just the opposite, opening themselves up for deep personal criticism and public scorn.

If that’s not the definition of a hero, I don’t know what is.

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Here’s Today’s Jeremy Lin Roundup

Jeremy’s former college teammate gives a refreshingly honest take about what it was like watching Linsanity take over at Harvard – [ESPN]

Jonah Lehrer reminds us that scouts really have no clue what they’re doing when it comes to evaluating talent – [Wired]

Andrew Sharp urges us to remember these moments forever, even if they don’t last – [SB Nation]

A reporter caught up with Jeremy’s grandmother and uncle who reside in Taiwan.  They discuss the complex task of figuring out Jeremy’s cultural identity as well – [New York Times]

Jon Bois has a simple breakdown of what Lin is doing, both good and bad – [SB Nation]

Bill Simmons has an all Lin mailbag – [Grantland]

Yao Ming has Linsanity – [NBA.com]

Read about Lin’s agent who was just as unknown as his player a few weeks ago [Spurs Nation]

Meet the numbers cruncher who predicted Lin’s success two years ago [Wall Street Journal]

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Today’s Roundup Of Jeremy Lin Articles

Basketball’s ombudsmen, Adrian Wojnarowski, weighs in Lin’s latest achievement – [Yahoo! Sports]

Bruce Arthur discusses the magic of Lin’s rise – [The National Post]

Jason Whitlock responds with a column about Lin’s success and his own controversial tweet this past weekend – [Fox Sports]

Buzz Bissinger wants us all to calm down about Lin until we have a bigger sample size [The Daily Beast]

Rick Reilly has the most Rick Reilly article ever about Lin [ESPN]

Gregg Doyel wonders how everybody missed Lin [CBS Sports]

Holly MacKenzie takes you into the Knicks locker room following last night’s game [Yahoo! Sports]

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Gen Y’s Top Sports Writing Of 2011

I compiled a top ten for you. I used to do a weekly feature each Friday called “great sports writing,” but no one ever read it. Doesn’t mean I’m not still keeping track though! Here are my top ten sports articles of 2011.

Honorable Mentions:

“Bill Simmons And Grantland” by Mobutu

This is easily the most controversial piece you’ll find on the list.  In it, a writer using the pen name Mobutu unloads a brutal and, perhaps, 100% accurate, take down of ESPN’s number one writer/celebrity Bill Simmons.  It’s a tough read for any fan of Simmons but many of the points of the author reign true.  It presents the best arguments against the ESPN offshoot site, so good in fact that the criticism almost seems to morph into the realm of being personal.  Although the identity of the writer Mobutu remains a secret, this was undoubtedly one of the best articles of 2011, whether you agree or disagree with the content.  P.S. my bet is on Deadspin’s resident genius/notorious ESPN critic Tommy Craggs as the author.

The Last Act Of The Notorious Howie Spira” by Luke O’Brien

Fascinating story about the man who got George Steinbrenner banned from baseball.  Spira is a complex character, to say the least, and O’Brien’s story does an excellent job telling his tale.

“The Kiss” by Chris Ballard

This piece should probably crack the top ten but Ballard already finds himself on the list with another piece.  He’s probably my favorite long form sports writer alive right now and don’t miss the chance to read into finding out just how that infamous kissing picture from the Vancouver riots actually wound up occurring.  It was instantly one of the most famous sports photos of all-time and knowing its back story makes it 1,000 times more fascinating.

“A Day With Mike Leach: Sailing Key West’s High Seas With The Pirate Captain” by Spencer Hall

Want to read the best Hunter S. Thompson impression of 2011?  Go no further than this awesome piece where Spencer Hall goes fishing with Leach while the coach was still on the unemployment line.  Great piece for finding the origins of the pirate king of college football.

“Staying The Course” by Wright Thompson

Thompson is ESPN’s best long form writer and has a rightful claim to the throne of best long form sports writer on the planet.  Everyone comes across an individual like Thompson once in their life, a southern man who seems to know everything about everything, knows everyone worth knowing, and has enough tall tales to fill an encyclopedia series.  Thompson is that man but just so happens to be one hell of a writer as well.  Check out this piece detailing one golf pro’s attempts to save a course from “financial meltdowns, voodoo curses, and the inevitable power of the tides.”

And now the Top Ten:

10. “Welcome to the Far Eastern Conference” by Wells Tower

This piece chronicles Stephon Marbury’s bizarre exile/journey to China. It details his grand plans to build a world basketball, clothing, and branding empire and he’s so convinced by his Jordan-like dreams that at times you can’t help but believe he’ll actually accomplish it. It gives you an excellent glimpse into what makes the former NBA star tick and the steep price a person is willing to pay to continue living his dream.

9. “Renegade Miami Football Booster Spells Out Illicit Benefits To Players” by Charles Robinson

Robinson’s piece was arguably the biggest story in the history of college football until a certain school in Pennsylvania was revealed to have covered up child molestation later this year.  While I have personal disagreements with news outlets going after college athletes, there’s no denying the gravity of Robinson’s investigation.  The time and effort that went into reporting this piece is very evident as well.

8. “Immigrant Misappropriations: The Importance of Ichiro” by Jay Caspian Kang

My buddies and I were somewhat giddy about the launch of Grantland this year, Bill Simmons’ new sports and pop culture website.  I have to admit though that it was an early disappointment and that I thought it might actually fail.  This was the first piece on the site that made me sit back and think “wow”  and wonder about the potential of Simmons’ brain child idea for a website.  Kang does an excellent job capturing Ichiro’s cultural importance to Asian-Americans as well as how the Japanese ball player influenced his own life.

7. Blindsided: The Jerry Joseph Basketball Scandal” by Michael J. Mooney

You might know the small town of Odessa, TX because of its legendary high school football obsession as chronicled in Buzz Bissinger’s famous book Friday Night Lights.  Travel back to Odessa to learn of the perplexing tale of Jerry Joseph, a basketball player who may or may not have faked his age to play high school basketball.  It probably wouldn’t have been a big deal if it had only been about basketball, but then there’s the matter of his relationship with an underage cheerleader at the school.  Did Joseph pull this off for a missed chance at glory?  Is he really who he says he is?  You make the call.

6. “College Coachs, Drinking, And The Two Men At The Rail” by Spencer Hall

Spencer Hall is the best writer you’ve never heard of.  He’s currently the best sports blogger in the world, which somehow seems like a backhanded compliment, given his extraordinary talents.  He’s the spiritual descendant of famous SI writer Dan Jenkins and share’s Jenkins’ affinity for and knowledge of college football.  In this piece, Hall responds to a round of heavy drinking allegations that probed new West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen before the season started.  Watch as the writer weaves a fantastic story from the past between his thoughts on the present.  The surprise reveal at the end is one of the best you’ll ever find.  And oh yeah, his poetic analysis of the blessings and dangers of drinking is divine.  You can find more of his stuff at the sports blog “Every Day Should Be Saturday.”

5. “The Confessions Of A Former Adolescent Puck Tease” by Katie Baker

Every member of the Gen Y population probably has an embarrassing story about their early use of the internet.  Former Deadspin, now Grantland writer Katie Baker recounts her journey into the world of early internet hockey message boards and the awkward/scary encounter that came as a result of taking white lies a bit too far.  The brutal honesty and excellent storytelling combine for one of the best pieces I read this year.  Baker is an up-and-coming rockstar in the sports writing world, so much so that she left a job at Goldman Sachs after Bill Simmons pleaded with her to join Grantland.

4. “The Shame Of College Sports” by Taylor Branch

I used this piece as the basis of a semester long research/thesis in a masters course I completed a few weeks ago.  It’s the best ever look into the hypocrisy and sham that is college athletics, going into never before seen details about court cases, back stories, and people who shaped this world.  Branch is a Pullitzer Prize winner himself and that he feels this way about college sports should be all you need to know on the topic.  If ever you were against paying college athletes and keeping “amateur” athletics in place, this is the piece that will convince you otherwise.  A masterpiece.

3. “Punched Out: The Life And Death Of A Hockey Enforcer” by John Branch

Many readers out there could make the case that this three part series from the New York Times was the best sports writing of the year.  I’d have a hard time convincing you otherwise.  Follow the journey of Derek Boogaard, who was at one time the baddest man in the NHL.  Boogard made an unlikely career out of beating the crap out of people, but paid the ultimate price for it with his life.  Branch’s three parts tell the story of how the boy grew up into that role, how he made it to the big time, and how he eventually met his downfall.  It’s an extremely emotional look into the darker side of sports and the measures athletes will go to in order to stay in the professional ranks.  It’s also extremely timely because of the breakthrough research into brain-related injuries for football and hockey players that we learned about this year.  Do not miss out on this one (the three parts are easy to click through if you look at the top of the page).

2. “The Biggest Winner” by Joe Posnanski

My own personal opinion is that the best writing, not just sports writing, always has to involve an element of the writer bearing his soul to the reader.  I guess an easier way of saying that is that the writer either needs to be a part of the story or must speak in the first person in their writing.  The reason I feel this way is that no matter how excellent a person might be at capturing the feelings and emotions of characters in stories, the only truth we can really be certain of in life is what we feel inside ourselves.  The only meaning I can really glean from this life is what I feel, what I find to be true, what I experience.  With this in mind, here’s Joe Posnanski, my nominee for the best sports columnist on the planet right now.  Posnanski’s story focuses on the greatest sports story he ever encountered: Rulon Gardner’s upset gold medal victory at the 1996 Olympics.  Throw in Posnanski’s own personal experience and well, be prepared for the greatness that unfolds.

1. “What Was He Thinking?” by Chris Ballard

This is admittedly an extremely biased pick.  Ballard is one of my favorite sports writers right now and that he chose to do a story on a former Bronco, well, let’s just say he had me at hello.  Do you remember Jake Plummer?  Do you remember how he walked away from the game Barry Sanders-style when there were plenty of teams begging him to come quarterback them to the postseason and continue living the dream life as a starting NFL quarterback?  Well, meet the current version of Jake Plummer, resident of Sandpoint, Idaho.  He loves to play handball.  He loves to drink beer.  And he doesn’t miss the NFL at all.  Perhaps you won’t find this story as fascinating as I did, but you have to be at least a little curious as to how a man walked away from what many people would call the full American dream.  Plummer’s logic and reasoning for doing so are a lot more complex than you could ever imagine.

Happy New Year’s from Generation Y where we’d like to thank you for your continued support of the site.

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Jay Mariotti Will Stand Trial

And the free fall continues.  From the LA Times:

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday that former ESPN sports personality Jay Mariotti must stand trial on felony stalking and assault charges in connection with allegations leveled by his ex-girlfriend.

Judge Mark Windham ruled that there was enough evidence to hold Mariotti to answer on charges that include stalking, corporal injury on a spouse or domestic partner, and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury.

Mariotti, who faces up to five years in state prison if convicted on all counts, has pleaded not guilty to those charges as well as to two misdemeanor counts of disobeying a court order.

Attorney Shawn Holley, who is representing Mariotti, said she brought two witnesses to court who were prepared to testify that the allegations against her client were “meritless and inconsistent with the physical evidence in the case.”

Yesterday on Around the Horn, host Tony Reali wondered out loud how Woody Paige had gained such a sizable lead in the career wins total on the show.  People forget that the guy who used to own that record was…oh yeah.  Sore subject.

[LA Times]

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Great Sports Writing: “Lessons Learned From Professor ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin”

If you’re a wrestling fan you know that Wrestlemania 27 went down last night, if you’re not, now you do.  One of the best sports bloggers on the planet right now, Spencer Hall, was in attendance as a credentialed member of the media.  What he wrote about the event is an instant classic and a must-read for anyone, regardless of whether you like wrestling or not.  Please, please, please take a moment today and check out Hall’s piece which makes an interesting commentary on sports, America, and life in general, all through the scope of WWE’s Super Bowl.  From SB Nation:

The Rock breathes through his traps like he has a pair of second lungs in them, and like all showmen isn’t playing for the camera, but instead is talking to you, you in 30D in Section 315. Yeah, you. You who needs to hear all the things the Rock has to say about knowing your role, and about what you’re thinking, thoughts which are actually irrelevant because — and the entire crowd will join him in saying this — WHAT YOU THINK DOESN’T MATTER.

He arches an eyebrow, because you and the rest of the universe are worthy of his scorn. The people are his only loyalty, and only that in the plural sense: On the way out of the ring, The Rock will theatrically disdain offered handshakes made by sad individuals in the audience because only a mass of lessers numbering in the thousands is worthy of his address. There is no “you” singular, only the plural “you.” 

In order to find his equal, he must address an entire dome full of people. It’s the only fair way for him to talk.

The Rock does not vary from the script he used 10 years ago in becoming the People’s Champ. The catchphrases are the same. You are still invited to smell what he is cooking. What you think still is of no consequence to him. The Rock still only loves the People. He still uses the same glare, a cross between a Polynesian warrior’s battle stance and a mimeographed Stan Lee Wolverine pose, clenched, heaving and ready to pounce in the direction of the offending party. It is 1999 in replay, and in the midst of a recession exactly  71,617 people and $6.6 million have poured into the Georgia Dome to act like we’re all at the height of the Internet boom. 

It is replay, and no one, repeat, not one single person in this building cares. The Undertaker will keep his WrestleMania win streak alive tonight at the age of 46. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin will stop the show with a proactive bit of officiating in the Michael Cole vs. Jerry “The King” Lawler match. The Rock will perform 35 minutes or so of glowering and intense mike work before wrestling for exactly one very decisive minute. Hipsterdom dies in the arms of Wrestlemania 27 in 2011: This is meat and potatoes, and will be reheated until the desired effect has been attained.

Wow.  I will definitely be re-reading this thing tonight.

[SB Nation]

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Collection Of TCU Rose Bowl Articles

I’ve been reading them all morning. I even went so far as to go out and purchase copies of three different newspapers that will hang in the Matt Corder household for all time. Without further ado:

Yahoo! Sports

Fox Sports

ESPN

Sports Illustrated

CBS Sports

AOL Fanhouse

NBC Sports

USA Today

Sporting News

New York Times

Dallas Morning News

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

TCU Daily Skiff

And finally, of the probably fifty or so columns I’ve read thus far this morning, my favorite has to be from LA Times columnist and Around the Horn contributor Bill Plaschke who called the game one of his all-time favorite Rose Bowls in the twenty or so years he has covered the game.  From the LA Times:

Many thought tiny Texas Christian would be brought to its knees, and they were right. “This was enough.” “This was our national championship,” said running back Waymon James.

In the wondrous moments that lighted up the Pasadena darkness late Saturday afternoon, several Horned Frogs staggered behind their bench, dropped to the ground and wept.

Many thought outsider TCU would lose its composure, and they were right.

Through the Arroyo Seco chill they danced, preschoolers in shoulder pads, running in circles, heaving their helmets, sticking out their tongues to catch the purple confetti as if it were an unexpected winter snow.

“Everybody said we couldn’t do it!” shouted receiver Jeremy Kerley. “But look at us now, we’re the Rose Bowl champs!”

Indeed they are, the most refreshingly joyful champs in the 20 years that I’ve covered this game, TCU finishing an unbeaten season with an unlikely 21-19 slugging of giant Wisconsin on Saturday in the 97th Rose Bowl.

Everybody put every bit of passion we had into this game,” said safety Tejay Johnson. “What you saw was all that passion coming out.”

Standing on many football fields after many important victories, I’m often fearful of being trampled by a charging student body. Saturday was the first time I was worried about being trampled by the actual team.

Go check out the rest of the memorable column.  I’ll remember the day forever.

GO FROGS!

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Buzz Bissinger Is Now A Sports Columnist For The Daily Beast

Always good to have one of the all-time greats writing regularly writing again.  In his first column at his new website, the Friday Night Lights author addresses Cam Newton and his father.  From the Daily Beast:

So Cecil wanted a piece of the action before his son’s college career ended, and the family deserved a piece of action: Call it an annuity, call it a financial derivative, call it a mortgage-backed security, but don’t buy into the treacle from the NCAA or lazy sportswriters that Cecil Newton somehow impugned the integrity of a game that hasn’t had any integrity since Robert Maynard Hutchins got rid of football at the University of Chicago in 1939, even though the school was in the Big Ten and Jay Berwanger had won the first Heisman Trophy four years earlier.

It’s actually unfair to call Cam Newton a whore. Let’s more accurately call him a slave to a system that is outrageous from any financial, or for that matter, moral perspective. Dozens upon dozens of major colleges, in their obscene obsession over college football and basketball even though it does not add a single thing to the academic experience—except members of the student body shellacking their torsos in school colors—take sickening advantage of their high-profile stars. They fill stadiums and arenas. Jerseys are sold with their names emblazoned on the back, worn by over-painted female fans with breasts that should know better. And yet the players don’t get a cut, at least as far as we know, which we don’t but for the rare example of isolated cases that go public.

The NCAA needs to get off its pedestal of false sanctimony that has become wearisome. Equally sanctimonious sportswriters, scarring the land with their predictable bellows of outrage, should just zip it as well—unless they care more about the pre-game spread in the press dining room and the secret fantasy of a big-time coach calling them by their first name.

This article has everything you’ve come to expect from a good Bissinger column: venom, sarcasm, wit, and dark humor.  We’ll keep you updated as more of his pieces come in.  We agree with him too by the way.  These guys deserve to get paid!

[The Daily Beast]

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Baseball Writer Lives Up To The Stereotype Of A Baseball Writer

Jeff Passan irked a ton of Rockies fans the other day when he called out the organization and Troy Tulowitzki for the new mega deal that was signed earlier this week.  I disagreed, it bugged me, and so I decided to set out and start reading whatever the dude was putting into print for Yahoo! Sports.  Low and behold his first column since then calls for Bud Selig to not mess with the sanctity of the game and that it’s fine as it currently stands.  I’m not kidding.  When discussing the possibility of adding an additional playoff team to each league Passan writes the following:

Whether it’s the three-game series favored by the majority or the one-game-and-out playoff espoused by some writers – another potential insult to whatever remains of the regular season – the wrongs of expanding baseball’s postseason far outweigh the rights.

Yet here is Selig, preparing this week to brief his hand-picked 14-person panel tasked with improving the game. At the winter meetings in Orlando, Selig will talk with the group, mostly comprised of executives and former players, about more playoffs. It’s distressing. They could focus on so many other issues, so many more pressing ones.

MLB’s postseason isn’t screaming for more teams. Baseball doesn’t need to be the NFL and certainly not the NBA, with its interminable playoff format. It needs to stay true to itself, or at least whatever of itself remains, whatever part hasn’t been cannibalized by a god that’s colored green.”

Nevermind the fact that it is almost universally agreed that the NFL is the only major sport that has perfected their playoff system.  Nevermind the fact that almost every baseball fan unanimously agrees that adding more playoff teams would make the postseason more appealing.  Nevermind the fact that everyone already currently complains that the five-game format of MLB’s first round doesn’t reward good teams.  To Passan, it seems, everything is going swimmingly in baseball in regards to the playoffs.

Although he is correct in pointing out that baseball has other pressing issues that need to be addressed (instant replay anyone?), I think we actually need to applaud Bud Selig for this move.  If I had it my way I’d make it two additional teams from each league and set it up like the NFL.  One of the reasons MLB is losing so much ground to other sports is that because of the length of its season, many fans feel alienated as soon as the all-star break and realize their teams have no shot at playing for a World Series.  That leaves one of two scenarios: 1) shorten the season (no one would disagree with this idea either) or 2) increase the number of teams who make the playoffs.  The motivations behind it are unfortunately based in earning more revenue for MLB, but the results will benefit more baseball fans.

[Yahoo! Sports]

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Reality TV, Corporate Teamwork, Economists, and Why College Football Players Shouldn’t Get Paid

By Ross Morgan:

Economists love to pose as ultra-logical, counter-intuitive, wise guys (Ever read Freakonomics?). Sports analysts love to pose as ultra-nostalgic, counter-decadent, moral guys (Ever listen to the Tony Kornheiser Show?). So naturally, economists say that we are distorting a, would-be, naturally forming free-market by not paying college athletes, and sports analysts generally write an anecdote about a player from the early part of the last century that shows the “beauty” in just “playing for the game” to argue that we would distort some sort of natural equilibrium we have in college athletics, that doesn’t exist in pro-sports, which makes the game “more pure” (I know reading that last sentence was like listening to Lou Holtz… brutal). Being a member of Generation Y (or Generation Why?), I don’t think I’m supposed to like economists or sports analysts…. because they aren’t on MTV. Regardless of generational allegiances, I don’t like either argument, so I’m writing my own. In true Generation Y fashion, I will be examining the issue under the value of teamwork but will be framing it under the MTV model.

Before I start creating this absolute masterpiece of analysis, let me just make one quick observation. Have team dynamics in sports already devolved to the level like that in which you would see on an MTV show like the Real World/Road Rules Challenge? Look at the Randy Moss situation. There’s no way this happens twenty-five years ago, at least, there’s no way it happens the way that it did. The guy performed a media stunt whereby he refused to speak to the media. In a tradition locker room team meal, Moss started to bad mouth the food and the catering company and really made it seem like he would rather be on the Patriots. Instead of getting beat up (I would of beat him up… of course), the other players on the team released statements to the media like, “I can’t believe he would do things like that and call us his teammates…. blah blah blah.” It reminded me of Sammi doing camera shots on Jersey Shore, “I can’t believe Ronnie goes to the club and makes out with two chicks at the same time and comes home and calls me his girlfriend…. blah blah blah.” Could you imagine how excited ESPN would get if sports became more like reality TV? I don’t think I’ve seen true X’s and O’s analysis on SportsCenter in years. This is the model they want. I could almost see SportsCenter becoming like TMZ with people sitting around chatting, “OMG, Brett Favre MMSed pictures of his WHAT!?!?” Then Skip Bayless will chime in, “Back in my day guys like Lawrence Taylor would have just offed the hussie.”

But to my knowledge or observation, you don’t see this level of discourse on a college team. In fact, the interviews with teammates concerning the Cam Newton situation are almost making me feel uncomfortable. Every member of the team just talks at length about how “loving” he is. His old coach at Blinn Junior College made this statement on First Take (Far and away my least favorite television program of all time, but most watched), “Cam is really a great guy. I was really impressed by how much he loves kids…. I was able to share text messages with him last November.” I heard this interview, and I thought I was watching the Rachel Maddow show it was so weird. But I think it shows one thing, the team dynamic on a non-professional level is completely different. Could you imagine the teammates of a professional player saying these things? Do they ever really offer support during controversy, or do they say, “I hope this resolves itself and he’s able to play the next game.”

I wish I knew more about psychology so I could answer the question of why paying players doesn’t appear to enhance their talents, but instead enhances their personalities. Does it create a boost in self-confidence or what? I mean, I can’t recall a time where I heard about a college player being a locker room cancer. This seems strange to me, because college aged men are typically the least-behaved, least-centered, least-responsible, and least-mature people in the world (other than college aged women!!). Is it the lack of money? Is it better coaching? Is it the coach also being a mentor? I think it’s a mixture of these things, but on the topic of money, I think the money creates an extra layer of competition that is similar to what you see on MTV reality TV shows.

We that are now Generation “Y”uppies, have undoubtedly heard the tired phrase, “climbing the corporate ladder”. This statement refers to taking actions inside of your organization to experience upward career progression. This implies a vertical organization whereby the number of personal at each level of responsibility decreases. In a large organization, if you get hired in an analyst class that has, for example, 30 people, there will automatically be tension and competition because the next level, associate, may only have 15-spots. The 30 of you are in competition, yes. However, you work for the same organization, and your success is dependent on the organization. And since you’re an agent of the organization, you ought to inherently care (AKA team player vs locker room cancer). The 30 original analysts must work together as a team in order to see any success at all, in spite of being in competition with one another in terms of long-run career impact. This is similar to the television show Jersey Shore, Real World, Road Rules and Survivor (hence the term reality TV). The members of the cast of Jersey Shore all desire to become the bigger and brighter star. The contestants on Survivor all desire to win whatever it is that they do (I haven’t wasted ten years of my evenings watching this show…. I wish I could say the same about Hannity & Colmes [I miss Colmes]). But the members of the casts of each of these shows are all reliant on one another’s interactions and talents to make the show an overall success. So on Jersey Shore and Real World you see tensions rise up. You see fights. The competition between cast members is fierce. But they also are friends. The cast members compete on Survivor, but reunite and are friends.

I have two points. My first, since I just compared corporate team dynamics to reality TV, I wonder if I just jeopardized my career-path in Corporate America. My second, I think team dynamics on reality TV shows can be extrapolated to professional team sports.

Do you remember my comparison of economists and sports analysts? I hope that you do. I believe that sports analysts make lousy economists because they don’t comprehend the idea of scarcity. Scarcity is the idea that there are unlimited needs and wants, but limited resources. Since the professional sports leagues don’t have printing presses (though it can seem that way), there are trade-offs for every decision that a team’s front-office makes. So, for every dollar that one player gets paid, that’s one dollar that isn’t going somewhere else. The hope is that you allocate salaries in a manner that pleases fans so that you can have increased attendance and TV ratings. So from a business perspective, you hope that by playing a player more, you win more, people spend more money on your team, and you are able to offset the increased salary with an increase in revenue. That doesn’t work all of the time or even most of the time (look at the NBA). So what you have are teams with limited resources and a group of players with unlimited wants competing with one another to have their wants fulfilled as much as possible. So when a player gets paid substantially more than his teammates and starts acting out, you know what I call it? Being a bad sport.

This year the NFL, as an entire league, is projected to earn $7,800,000,000 in revenues according to Forbes. That’